Oklahoma DHS: Foster Parents Needed

Tuesday, November 13th 2012, 5:58 pm

There are more than 9,000 children statewide living apart from their families because of abuse or neglect.

Finding foster parents for siblings is one of the greatest challenges for the Department of Human Services.

Ulysses Allen is a child welfare specialist with the DHS. It's his job to match children with foster families, but the odds are against him.

"We get more kids in than families and, right now, we're pushing with this Pinnacle Plan, we're really trying to recruit more families," Allen said.

7/25/2012 Related Story: $100 Million Plan To Improve Oklahoma Foster Care System Approved

The gap is significant with about 1,000 children spread between 300 families in Tulsa County. The children who don't get into foster homes go into a shelter and, Tuesday, there were 70 children in there.

"Whatever it is you have to offer is better than what they have right now, and I'm not referring to their family, I'm referring to the shelter," said foster parent Ronda Davis.

Ronda and Keith Davis have three foster children in their home, and have taken care of 19 other children over the last five years.

The Davises said they've had a positive experience and have developed lifelong relationships.

DHS covers almost all of the cost.

The Davises said what people really need is likely inside them already.

"What you really need is love in your heart for a child and if you have that, you have everything you need to be equipped to take care of a child in need," Keith said.

Allen said the foster program often leads to adoption, because of the circumstances, but ideally it's just a bridge to protect the children while the family issues are sorted out.

"And we find a lot of families, who just needed a push, who say they had a problem and they're glad someone stepped in to help, and by that time a lot of families are reunited with their kids," Allen said.

DHS says the application process for foster parents takes about 60 days.

Contact the Bridge Resource Support Center to find out more about the process of becoming a foster parent.


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